The University of Wisconsin Press

Natural History


Small Creatures and Ordinary Places
Essays on Nature
Allen M. Young
Illustrated by Judith Huf

Observations on the flicker of fireflies, springs full of frog song, Monarch butterflies in a patch of purple coneflowers

Small Creatures and Ordinary Places reveals to us the beauty and value of hornets, bats, katydids, mice, cicadas, and other tiny dwellers in our own backyards. Young, a renowned expert on butterflies and cicadas of the American tropics, records in these charming essays his keen observations of the natural world as he walks through an urban woods near the Lake Michigan shore, or sits on his deck facing his backyard, or gazes at a field of corn stubble in autumn. He invites us to venture into our own yards, neighborhood parks, fields, and forests and pause there . . . to look and to listen.

Small creatures have unique and interesting stories to tell us, Young points out. Their brief life cycles illustrate the intricate workings of a bigger clock driving the seasons, and they dominate the larger web of life in which humans are but a strand. Far too often they are ignored, taken for granted, reviled, or misunderstood. Even now, Young writes, as we move into a new millennium as a species and the technological pace of our existence further quickens, we can gain much from appreciating nature close at hand, despite how steadily it is being pushed aside.

Allen M. Young is curator of zoology and vice president of collections, research, and public programs at the Milwaukee Public Museum. His essays on nature have appeared in the Chicago Tribune Magazine, Milwaukee Journal, Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Sun-Times, and Wisconsin Natural Resources. He is the author of several books on the natural history of the tropics, including The Chocolate Tree, Sarapiqui Chronicle, and Lives Intertwined. He also prepared a revised edition of the Golden Guide to Insects, a book that in an earlier edition inspired his boyhood fascination with the life cycles of insects.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

The cover of Small Creatures is

November 2000

288 pp.   6 x 9
28 pen and ink line drawings

Book icon
Paper $24.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-16964-0
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
  Review cart contents
Secure checkout


Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.
E-mail: or by phone at 608-263-0733.

Updated 12/15/2014

© 2011, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System